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#1699276 - 06/21/11 11:27 AM Boston International Piano Competition for Amateurs
jazzyprof Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/30/04
Posts: 2629
Loc: Ann Arbor, MI
Sam S. posted this on the Adult Beginners Forum.

June 23 - 26

Competition website

Live webcast

I recognize a couple of PW members...musica71 and LisztAddict. No Mark_C though. cry Any other members in there?
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"Playing the piano is my greatest joy...period."......JP

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#1699290 - 06/21/11 11:48 AM Re: Boston International Piano Competition for Amateurs [Re: jazzyprof]
Orange Soda King Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/25/09
Posts: 6070
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky, United S...
Can't wait to start watching! smile

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#1699308 - 06/21/11 12:13 PM Re: Boston International Piano Competition for Amateurs [Re: jazzyprof]
Skorpius Offline
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Registered: 10/17/08
Posts: 751
who are they? like what are their names
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#1699316 - 06/21/11 12:26 PM Re: Boston International Piano Competition for Amateurs [Re: Skorpius]
jazzyprof Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/30/04
Posts: 2629
Loc: Ann Arbor, MI
Originally Posted By: Skorpius
who are they? like what are their names

musica71=Judy Darst
LisztAddict=Thang Dinh
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"Playing the piano is my greatest joy...period."......JP

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#1699553 - 06/21/11 08:20 PM Re: Boston International Piano Competition for Amateurs [Re: jazzyprof]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19777
Loc: New York
Jazzy: Thanks for the tears! ha

I'm not doing any more this year, only wanted to do the Cliburn and that's it. I decided to put it all on that. smile

But I'm planning to go up to Boston to see as much of the competition as possible -- probably Fri. & Sat. (second half of 1st round, and semi-finals).

I've looked at the list of competitors, and this field is no easier than the Cliburn. I said before the Cliburn that it looked like they could easily double-fill their finals -- same with this one, and also the semi-finals.

In fact, it might be even harder to make the semi-finals in this one, because although maybe overall the field isn't quite as strong, there are fewer semi-final slots. In the Cliburn it was 25; here, it's 12-14. And there are plenty of real good candidates.

Looking down the list, and considering just the people that I know (about 60%), I see at least 18 solid semi-finalists -- among which I include both of our people, as well as Judy's son Seth -- and there's only going to be room for about half of them. (That's enough to make us glad we're not in it!) ha

It's a tough field. As with other recent competitions, just making the 2nd round will be a great achievement, and making the finals will be awesome.

P.S. While we only have two active members in the competition, based on my experience at the Cliburn we can pretty safely say we've got at least a few lurkers among the rest of the candidates.
(Feel free to say who you are, y'all hear?)
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"Everything I say is my opinion, including the facts." :-)

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#1699574 - 06/21/11 08:45 PM Re: Boston International Piano Competition for Amateurs [Re: Mark_C]
Orange Soda King Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/25/09
Posts: 6070
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky, United S...
Mark, what's with the Dawg Pound and something about bandwidth?

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#1699587 - 06/21/11 09:03 PM Re: Boston International Piano Competition for Amateurs [Re: Orange Soda King]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19777
Loc: New York
Did I skrew up the page?
If so, sorry!!
(Let me know if I did, and I'll delete the thing.)

I don't see that there's anything about "bandwidth" but I guess there might be.....

P.S. I figured I better just replace that 'thing' right away, even before hearing anything more about it, so I did -- but I'm interested to know if there was a problem.
(And of course if there still is.)


Edited by Mark_C (06/21/11 09:10 PM)
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#1702113 - 06/26/11 12:17 AM Re: Boston International Piano Competition for Amateurs [Re: Mark_C]
Cinnamonbear Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/09/10
Posts: 3904
Loc: Rockford, IL
Do we have any reports from any participants or spectators, yet? I saw the list of finalists, posted on the official website and wondered if our friends who are there have said anything about how it went for them? There's nothing posted in ABF that I could see, either.

Just wondering!
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#1702122 - 06/26/11 12:39 AM Re: Boston International Piano Competition for Amateurs [Re: Cinnamonbear]
Cinnamonbear Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/09/10
Posts: 3904
Loc: Rockford, IL
BTW, MarkC, I noticed that Daniel Chow listed the Bach/Busoni-Chaconne in D min as his preliminary round piece. Is this what he played? He's in the finals! wink
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#1702131 - 06/26/11 12:56 AM Re: Boston International Piano Competition for Amateurs [Re: jazzyprof]
LisztAddict Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/12/05
Posts: 2896
Loc: Florida
Daniel Chow's performance of the Liszt Hungarian Rhapsody No 12 was really awesome!

I expect to see some ties, either two 1st prizes or two 2nd prizes. I think this final round is going to be a step or two above the recent IPCOA.

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#1702165 - 06/26/11 02:32 AM Re: Boston International Piano Competition for Amateurs [Re: jazzyprof]
Lingyis Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/15/09
Posts: 832
probably very unfair for me to say they don't sound very good after listening to yeol eum son...

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#1702168 - 06/26/11 02:44 AM Re: Boston International Piano Competition for Amateurs [Re: Cinnamonbear]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19777
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: Cinnamonbear
BTW, MarkC, I noticed that Daniel Chow listed the Bach/Busoni-Chaconne in D min as his preliminary round piece. Is this what he played? He's in the finals! wink

Yeah, that would go against my "rule-of-thumb" about that piece in competitions, wouldn't it..... smile

I don't know for sure if he did play it but I assume he did. And indeed he's someone who has the tools and the style to make it work: great palette of dynamics, including on the soft end; and great control.

I consider him the clear favorite to win, without any tie.

BTW: I always root for ties, because I like giving the full honor to whoever deserves it, and there's almost always more than 1 who does. But the competitions seem to like avoiding that if they can. If they can make some reasonably clear choice, they do.
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#1702173 - 06/26/11 03:08 AM Re: Boston International Piano Competition for Amateurs [Re: Cinnamonbear]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19777
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: Cinnamonbear
Do we have any reports from any participants or spectators, yet?.....

From what I heard of the 1st round performances (about a third of the people), plus the 'talk' that I heard about the ones I didn't hear (plus what the players said themselves), I had the impression that the judges did just about as perfect a job as possible in picking the semi-finalists.

I can't say the same about picking the finalists. I mean, I agree with them on 4 out of the 6, presumably the top 4 -- which actually ain't too bad, since I suppose the main thing is to wind up with the right winners, and I think they will. But, for what it's worth, I thought one of the finalist choices, was.....how to put it gently.....a bad pick smile and one of the others, while not unreasonable, was quite puzzling. For the most part I don't want to 'name names,' but I will say who I thought should have made it but didn't.

I thought 5 of the semi-finalists were clear picks for the finals, but one of those didn't make it -- Michael Serio. I realized that he was controversial and maybe wouldn't be OK to the judges -- and he wasn't. Since it was stated that there would be "5 or 6" finalists, I thought that maybe they'd only take 5, since I felt that after the top 5, there was a tight cluster of a few other people -- and how much sense would it make to take just 1 of them, when the first 5 were clearly ahead anyway? FWIW my favorite among those others was Max Sung, although I couldn't be objective because I had a reason to be biased for him. Anyway, assuming the judges were right, I was pretty far off. I thought two of the finalists weren't even among the "2nd tier" of semi-finalists, or at best were at the bottom of that.

I realized that Michael Serio was a hard candidate to judge. The word I kept thinking as I heard him play, both for better and for worse, was outrageous. He has clear deficiencies. There's a certain crudeness, and many different kinds of imprecision. But to me he was the most interesting and individual of the players (which, in a field that includes Esfir Ross, is saying quite a bit) ha ....and according to what idea you have of Beethoven -- I mean Beethoven the person -- you could imagine that Beethoven might have played like that. Ridiculous, I know. smile But that's the feeling I had -- or, at least, that the impression created by his playing was along the lines of the impression that I imagine Beethoven's playing might have had in his time. (Michael played the 1st movement of the Waldstein.) And, BTW, for those of you who didn't hear him play, in the Scarlatti sonata that he started the round with, he added all kinds of ornaments and riffs, way beyond what we usually ever hear. I loved it -- although I have to admit that it made me laugh a few times.

I thought it was likely the judges would want him in the finals, even though that would mean they'd be overlooking deficiencies and "sins" that judges would rarely overlook -- and they didn't.
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#1702202 - 06/26/11 04:41 AM Re: Boston International Piano Competition for Amateurs [Re: Mark_C]
Cinnamonbear Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/09/10
Posts: 3904
Loc: Rockford, IL
Are you still in Boston, Mark? Are you going to get to listen to the final round?

I am curious about the judging, also (as usual...). Do you think there was any of the kind of thing going on here that you described earlier this year about the Paris competition, where judges may give a "pass" of sorts to someone who has good enough chops to pull off a piece they want to hear in a successive round?

Thanks for your report, Mark! I wish I could have been there to hear everyone play!

--Andy
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#1702268 - 06/26/11 08:43 AM Re: Boston International Piano Competition for Amateurs [Re: jazzyprof]
liszt85 Offline
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Registered: 08/26/08
Posts: 3159
Did either of our members get into the semi-finals? I know Mark thought they deserved too, but I'm curious if they actually did. Congratulations are in order regardless for getting through to this apparently highly difficult amateur competition.
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#1702298 - 06/26/11 10:08 AM Re: Boston International Piano Competition for Amateurs [Re: Cinnamonbear]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19777
Loc: New York
Cinnamon: No, had to leave late last night (with regrets).
About the judging: While I thought a couple of the results were odd, I didn't suspect any lack of integrity, although at least one audience member did (because of the seeming strangeness of choices).
In 'defense' of those choices: While a couple of the inclusions seemed strange, nobody who was a clear-cut pick for the finals failed to make it (as per what I said up there).

Liszt85: No, neither of our people made the semi-finals but Judy's son did.

This was a very tough field. Many people who played very well in the 1st round didn't advance.
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"Everything I say is my opinion, including the facts." :-)

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#1702337 - 06/26/11 11:26 AM Re: Boston International Piano Competition for Amateurs [Re: Mark_C]
Cinnamonbear Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/09/10
Posts: 3904
Loc: Rockford, IL
Thanks, Mark!

Now, I'm not trying to stir up controversy where there is none, and what you say about the calibre of contestants makes me feel for the judges and the difficult job they have to do, and the white hot spotlight that is put on them in a competition, which puts as much pressure on them as it puts on the competitors (or it should)-- and I was thinking of your description (and some others that I heard) about the number of excellent performances, and it gave me the "all things being equal" picture, and made me wonder, again, what tips the judges' scale at any given moment for any given competitor. And I was remembering what you wrote about the French style of judging, where they were really looking for a varied finalist program by competitors who could obviously play what they said they could play, and since the judges wanted to hear such and such a piece, played by such and such a competitor in a future round, that helped usher the competitor through to the finals.

That idea intrigued me so much when you described it this spring, I had to wonder about it, here. I recognized many names on the Boston program from my visit to the Chicago competition last summer, and they were all very accomplished pianists, and some were very excellent musicians!

I find the whole concept of piano competitions to be rather awkward for so many reasons. Congratulations to all of the participants! I am sure there was much beautiful music to be celebrated by those performers who shared the stage. (I am still trying to make sense of the posted videos on the Boston competition web site...)

--Andy
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I may not be fast,
but at least I'm slow.

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#1702366 - 06/26/11 12:36 PM Re: Boston International Piano Competition for Amateurs [Re: jazzyprof]
Lingyis Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/15/09
Posts: 832
i think amateur competitions should switch a system of say "Gold Award", "Silver Award" where there can be multiple winners for each award.

e.g., for a given year, there can be 2 Gold awards handed out, 5 Silver awards, and 10 bronze awards.

so 17 medals out of a field of 54 or something. that's certainly still discriminating enough!

plus a few more special prizes. increasing the application fee a bit is probably okay--the travel costs far exceed it anyway.

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#1702502 - 06/26/11 05:03 PM Re: Boston International Piano Competition for Amateurs [Re: jazzyprof]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19777
Loc: New York
In case anyone's interested: A few of the competition regulars are on the "chat," including Chris Shih.
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#1702555 - 06/26/11 07:19 PM Re: Boston International Piano Competition for Amateurs [Re: Mark_C]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19777
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
....the main thing is to wind up with the right winners, and I think they will....

And indeed they did. thumb

We could argue about what the exact order of the top people should have been, and I think any order could have been considered reasonable, but I think there's little doubt that the judges got it basically right: they had the right top 3. There was an interesting debate on the "live chat," about how the distinctions among the top 3 in this event depended so much on whatever our own subjective priorities and preferences are: how much do you value lyricism, "interesting-ness" and depth, as opposed to things like execution and excitement? (We might say "technique" but I'm avoiding the word because I don't know exactly what it means ha and interestingly, I think the word was never used by anyone in that chat.)

BTW: The 'lyrical/interesting/deep' guy won.
P.S. His "technique" is real good too anyway. smile
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#1702559 - 06/26/11 07:37 PM Re: Boston International Piano Competition for Amateurs [Re: Mark_C]
Tim Adrianson Offline
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Registered: 08/07/10
Posts: 1058
It was a great experience to view these six finalists on LiveStream -- what a fantastic set of pianists! I was very happy that Abel won -- IMO, he's one of the most fantastic musician/pianists I've ever encountered, and I daresay that most of the folks in the BPA would say the same. The person dearest to my own heart (and, for that matter, pianistic approach) was Ali Mushtaq. I've never heard him before, but was greatly impressed with his choice of repertoire, his overall "panache", and his pianistic technique. But -- EVERYBODY was tremendous, in their various ways. I'll look forward to seeing the semi-final rounds this week -- a few people I know were in it, as well as a few others that I've never heard but have done very well in other competitions.

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#1702563 - 06/26/11 07:48 PM Re: Boston International Piano Competition for Amateurs [Re: Mark_C]
carey Offline
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Registered: 05/13/05
Posts: 6341
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
Originally Posted By: Mark_C


Liszt85: No, neither of our people made the semi-finals but Judy's son did.

This was a very tough field. Many people who played very well in the 1st round didn't advance.


Judy is very proud of her son and I'm certain she's thrilled he made it to the semi-finals !!! thumb
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#1702713 - 06/27/11 01:40 AM Re: Boston International Piano Competition for Amateurs [Re: Tim Adrianson]
Cinnamonbear Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/09/10
Posts: 3904
Loc: Rockford, IL
Originally Posted By: Tim Adrianson
It was a great experience to view these six finalists on LiveStream -- what a fantastic set of pianists! I was very happy that Abel won -- IMO, he's one of the most fantastic musician/pianists I've ever encountered, and I daresay that most of the folks in the BPA would say the same. The person dearest to my own heart (and, for that matter, pianistic approach) was Ali Mushtaq. I've never heard him before, but was greatly impressed with his choice of repertoire, his overall "panache", and his pianistic technique. But -- EVERYBODY was tremendous, in their various ways. I'll look forward to seeing the semi-final rounds this week -- a few people I know were in it, as well as a few others that I've never heard but have done very well in other competitions.


Me too, Tim! I really enjoy watching Abel--no theatrics, no wasted energy. His concertration is palpable. The guy sits down at the piano and gets to work, and the most amazing things come from the piano through him. (Yes. I'm a fan.) grin
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but at least I'm slow.

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#1702716 - 06/27/11 01:44 AM Re: Boston International Piano Competition for Amateurs [Re: Cinnamonbear]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19777
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: Cinnamonbear
Me too, Tim! I really enjoy watching Abel--no theatrics, no wasted energy. His concertration is palpable. The guy sits down at the piano and gets to work, and the most amazing things come from the piano through him. (Yes. I'm a fan.) grin

Did you think he should have gotten 1st in Chicago? (Just wondering -- I have no opinion on it because I didn't see/hear any of the top people there.)
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#1702744 - 06/27/11 03:36 AM Re: Boston International Piano Competition for Amateurs [Re: Cinnamonbear]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19777
Loc: New York
P.S. Another thing, perhaps of some general interest.....

One of the semi-finalists got stopped in the middle of her round (she had a couple of pieces left), because she had already exceeded the time limit (and also, as they said, because they were running late -- but I'm sure they wouldn't have done it just for that).

She pleaded, "Just more piece!" -- and, to my surprise, there was a lot of murmured support from the audience -- but the 'staff' stood firm, rightly so. IMO the audience members who wanted her to be allowed to play more just weren't thinking.

What's wrong with letting someone go over the time limit? A few things.

Most importantly, it's unfair to the other players. The more you play, the more you can show. You can do bigger pieces, or just more pieces.

It shows a lack of respect and/or lack of seriousness about the rules. I would go so far as to say it insults the competition but maybe that's a bit strong. smile

Plus.....this is kind of subtle but if you put your shoes in the mind of an audience member (so to speak) ha ....

It confuses the audience, especially if the repertoire is unfamiliar (which hers happened to be). For example, if the time limit for the round is 15 minutes, which it was, and the person has 4 pieces, which she did, you assume each piece is pretty short, or anyway that the whole thing won't be more than about 15 minutes, and you sort of 'program' your mind accordingly. The second piece was a theme and variations, and you know how those can be ha -- you might not necessarily know when the piece is over. After a while, I assumed she was already into her 3rd piece, maybe even her 4th, because she had already been playing so long. But no, it was still that same piece.

It's not nice to scramble the brains of the audience. smile
She didn't think about that, just as she hadn't thought about other aspects of it either. The staff did the right thing by making an issue of it, especially since her full program would have hugely exceeded the limit.

Although.....in a fit of ironic inconsistency, they gave her the award for "Creative Programming." ha
When someone plans a program that ignores the time limit, and when you call her on it, it doesn't make a lot of sense to give her an honor for her programming.

BTW, in the Cliburn amateur semi-finals, one of the top candidates exceeded the limit by 3 full minutes. They didn't stop him, but they didn't advance him either. I wonder if this was a factor -- he had been considered one of the 'favorites,' and still was after his semi-final playing. (His program included three pieces, two of them quite short. All he would have needed to do was omit one of them.)
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#1702760 - 06/27/11 05:08 AM Re: Boston International Piano Competition for Amateurs [Re: Mark_C]
Cinnamonbear Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/09/10
Posts: 3904
Loc: Rockford, IL
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: Cinnamonbear
Me too, Tim! I really enjoy watching Abel--no theatrics, no wasted energy. His concertration is palpable. The guy sits down at the piano and gets to work, and the most amazing things come from the piano through him. (Yes. I'm a fan.) grin

Did you think he should have gotten 1st in Chicago? (Just wondering -- I have no opinion on it because I didn't see/hear any of the top people there.)


Hmmm. That's a tough one, Mark! There were so many excellent performances, and, if you remember that particular discussion thread, the judging was kind of goofy. He certainly could have been awarded 1st. I remember his performances pretty well. I was most taken by the Scarlatti that he played. It was phenomenal.
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#1702825 - 06/27/11 08:21 AM Re: Boston International Piano Competition for Amateurs [Re: Cinnamonbear]
Tim Adrianson Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/10
Posts: 1058
Agree with CB -- he certainly COULD have gotten first, although I thought it was doubtful with his choice of the Boulez Sonata (that's too cerebral) in the final round. I heard Victoria Bragin all three rounds, and thought she deserved her 1st place award: all her performances were technically and musically very satisfying, and she played in a number of differing styles (Beethoven 31/3; Bartok Improvisations; Debussy Feux d'Artifice; Chopin Sonata No 3). By contrast, the Paganini Variations were IMO an especially good final round choice, and particularly for him: it gave him a chance to showcase his amazing clarity and lyricism in a work that sorely needs those specific attributes to come off successfully.

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#1702842 - 06/27/11 08:40 AM Re: Boston International Piano Competition for Amateurs [Re: Mark_C]
Tim Adrianson Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/10
Posts: 1058
Mark, I agree with you: I can't sympathize much with competitors whose program runs 3 - 4 minutes over the allotted time frame. It isn't that hard to determine approximate program length, and not to do so at best exhibits a competitor's cluelessness, and at worst his/her contempt for guidelines -- and, after all, there is a very common-sense, understandable reason for having this guideline; it's not like it's an arbitrary conceit on the part of the organizers. It is, of course, an embarrassment to be asked to stop -- but, then, don't put yourself in a position where that could happen.

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#1703052 - 06/27/11 03:14 PM Re: Boston International Piano Competition for Amateurs [Re: Tim Adrianson]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19777
Loc: New York
Thanks, Tim.
And BTW, she would have gone over the time limit even more than what you said. A lot more.
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"Everything I say is my opinion, including the facts." :-)

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#1703293 - 06/27/11 11:03 PM Re: Boston International Piano Competition for Amateurs [Re: jazzyprof]
musica71 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/04/08
Posts: 424
Loc: Bend, Or.
I just got home today after getting up at 4.00 A.M eastern time. To me the finals were more exciting than the Cliburn Amateur. Daniel Chow was amazing....but then as others played it seemed they were as well. WHO can win this thing?? The final judging suited me just fine, Abel brought down the house! We also heard that he had only worked on the Paganini Variations (both books) for 3 months?? Is that possible? If it is true he is REALLY a genius! My son did make the semi's which was a real accomplishment as he had been at a meeting in Vermont since Sunday and was unable to practice except for a couple of times on a keyboard. It was a learning experience for me. I was able to talk to all 5 judges and got some conflicting opinions...but know that I must take more of a risk in the preliminary and play at least something that is more difficult. Quit babying myself. I did not much care for the piano, very dead treble and large bass, just not singing. One really had to work to bring out the top. It rained and was cool the whole time, very humid of course. I do wish perhaps the competitors could donate a few bucks and have a refreshment table in the C. Lounge. There was nothing, no water, not a cracker or a grape anywhere to be seen. After the Cliburn where they practically have a banquet 24-7 it was noticeable.
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